Groundswell is a unique enterprise, consisting of a retreat center and radical queer intentional community.
Located on 200 acres in the redwood zone of northern California, the retreat center is owned and operated by the members of the community, who are also the permanent residents on the land. Our collective home life and our business enterprise are intimately connected, and are guided by the same principles. Our values include heart-centeredness, inclusivity, environmental stewardship, and interpersonal connection in all its varied forms. We happily engage with our guests and larger community, creating an extended family of friends and allies who support our goal of nurturing queer consciousness, culture, and creativity.
Groundswell was founded in 2014 by five idealistic queers who dreamt of rural living in intentional community. Our membership has now grown to eight, counting provisional members, and there are usually ten to twelve people in residence on the land at any given time. The original vision didn’t include running a retreat center, but when we saw the property with the quirky old camp infrastructure, the year-round creek and the magnificent locale, we saw an opportunity that we couldn’t turn down. Despite some twists and turns, we’ve persevered, beautifying and upgrading every step of the way.
The community lives in two houses and four tiny homes, on the residential side of the property which is separated from the camp by the creek. We tend livestock and small garden plots, share meals, laugh a lot, sometimes argue, have heart circles, and make consensus decisions about how to manage the retreat center and the property as a whole.
Groundswell hosts a variety of gatherings during the year, and also rents out the facility to kindred groups and individuals. We take much of our inspiration from the Radical Faeries, but we aren’t a faerie sanctuary. This is because we need to be self-sustaining, and we simply can’t afford to open our doors to all comers, though we offer scholarships to make our gatherings more accessible to those facing economic hardship. Nor can we provide unlimited care to the most troubled in our midst, since we need to steward our resources – both financial and psychological – with skill and caution if we’re to remain viable. Our goal is to serve as many people as possible, and to nurture ourselves in the process.
As we grow, our horizons grow. We are committed to holding space for trans, non-binary, disabled, and POC people, and we value intergenerational exchange. We believe in the importance of building bridges while honoring difference, and we welcome ongoing conversation with individuals and groups who want to co-create with us. Take a look at our Community Values Statement to read more about our principles and intentions.
Groundswell is still young, and it costs a lot to keep our project going. There are many ways to support us, whether by choosing to register for gatherings at a higher-than-minimum level, becoming a Cahoots member, or donating labor and/or materials for one of our work parties. And, if you’re inspired by our vision, you can click below to make a contribution now.